The Shadow

This personal inimical image can be recognized, however, without too much difficulty, granted a little self-criticism; if one takes the trouble one can catch oneself in flagranti, in the very act of doing or saying just that thing one most dislikes in the other person.  The shadow consists largely of laziness, greed, envy, jealousy, the desire for prestige, aggressions, and similar “tormenting spirits.” 

“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort.  To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real.”[1]

Psychologically the term “shadow” denotes the inferior and for the most part, darker or poorer character traits of a person which, though not much noticed by the conscious ego, coexist with it.  Most often it is made up of traits of an emotional nature which possess a certain autonomy and which occasionally overrun consciousness.  These contents are partly of a personal nature and could, with moral effort, be observed in the light of self-knowledge.  They are only relatively evil, since they often indicate vitality and a nearness to the instincts, which also possess a positive value.  But on the other side, the shadow is connected with the collective darkness which crystallizes into the archetypal image of a destructive deity and faces mankind with terrifying problems.  TGL 56

“… that unconscious deep (“so deep that the bottom cannot be seen”) wherein are hoarded all of the rejected, unadmitted, unrecognized, unknown, or undeveloped factors, laws, and elements of existence.” 

As you become aware of your self, your ego comes into birth.  P2B 68  … you can watch this awakening in a little baby as it begins to realize itself as ego.  The self and ego are not the same.  The ego is the center of conscious mind only; it encompasses your awareness of your self and your world.   P2B 69

When a child has that first moment when it realizes the dichotomy of “I and not-I”, the ego is born.  But when differentiation of ‘pairs’ (under the scope of scrutiny) is first divided into preference, association, or identification, and the child prefers one thing over another– then the Shadow is born.  From that moment on – the shadow becomes the reservoir of all of the suppressed and repressed thoughts that the ego chooses not to confront, admit, or acknowledge.  All of the information within the field of the subject – whether acknowledged or not – is stored within the available conscious.

And just as the typical neurotic is unconscious of his shadow side, so the normal individual, like the neurotic, sees his shadow in his neighbour or in the man beyond the great divide.”  (Undiscovered Self)

“The “man without a shadow” is statistically the commonest human type, one who imagines he actually is only what he cares to know about himself.”


   Personal and Collective

"The personal shadow is the personal shortcomings of things which every human being could be conscious of, which is not archetypal.  For instance such things as greed for money, jealousy, inferiorities which everybody has, but prefers not to know about.  If one is jealous or if one is suddenly possessed by wanting money or so on, one could know about it if one is honest with one's self.   But the collective shadow has to do with the dark side of the archetype of the Self, that means it is the shadow of the god image; in the Christian tradition it would be the devil.   And that has always been personified and felt as something which has not to do with directly with the human being.  I mean if someone is possessed by the devil he is much worse than just... he's not human, it's demonic.  But on the other hand, generally that merges.  First you have this area of dim dark side and behind it lacks the other.  I for instance seen that when Germany went to the devil in Nazism, people fell into it through their personal shadow.  For instance, they didn't want to lose their job because they were clinging to money.  That was a personal shadow, but then they joined in with the Nazi movement for that reason, and did much worse things than they would have done normally under normal social conditions.  So you can see the personal shadow is the bridge to the collective shadow.  Or the open door to the collective shadow, but  the collective shadow comes out in those terrible mass psychosis'.   It's like you have a room and there is one door there not shut, and there the devil can come in. And if you know your personal shadow you can shut all of the doors. 

There are actually 2 shadows recognized in psychology – a personal and a collective one.  Where it is personal or collective depends on whether the shadow pertains to the ego & personal unconscious, or to that of the collective unconscious.  (re-worded by me, but -  J. 111)

Persons who strive convulsively, with a frightening effort of the will that is far beyond their strength, to remain ‘on the peak’, who can admit their weaknesses neither to themselves nor to others, often succumb, sometimes suddenly, sometimes gradually, to a deep-seated sterility.  The spiritual and moral tower they live in is not a natural growth but an artificial scaffolding erected and sustained by force, hence in danger of collapsing under the slightest weight.  J 112

To confront the shadow means to take a mercilessly critical attitude towards one’s own nature.  J 113

But like everything of which we are unconscious, the shadow is experienced in projection[2] upon an outside object.  That is why the ‘other fellow is always to blame’ as long as we are not aware that the darkness is in ourselves.  Jacobi 113

“But if we step through the door of the shadow we discover with terror we are the objects of unseen factors.  To know this is decidedly unpleasant, for nothing is more disillusioning than the discovery of our own inadequacy.  It can even give rise to primitive panic, because, instead of being believed in, the anxiously guarded supremacy of consciousness – which is in truth one of the secrets of human success – is questioned in the most dangerous way.      BW pg 319, par 49

Lexicon 124 – Shadow   “The realization of the shadow is inhibited by the persona.  To the degree that we identify with a bright persona, the shadow is correspondingly dark.  Thus shadow and persona stand in a compensatory relationship …”  

There is no generally effective technique for assimilating the shadow.  It is more like diplomacy or statesmanship and it is always an individual matter.  First one has to accept and take seriously the existence of the shadow.  Second, one has to become aware of its qualities and intentions.  This happens through conscientious attention to moods, fantasies and impulses.  Third, a long process of negotiation is unavoidable.”   Lexicon – page 124

Lex – 124  “This process of coming to terms with the Other in us is well worth while, because in this way we get to know aspects of our nature which we would not allow anybody else to show us and which we ourselves would never have admitted.”  “Rex and Regina, “CW 14, par. 514.

Through the method of psychoanalysis (Jung) argreed/argued repressed material can be brought to the surface and confronted, whereupon its associated energies are dissipated.”

... the contents of the personal unconscious (i.e., the shadow) are indistinguishably merged with the archetypal contents of the collective unconscious and drag the latter with them when the shadow is brought into consciousness.  (BW 480)

Closer examination of the dark characteristics – that is, the inferiorities constituting the shadow – reveals that they have an emotional nature, a kind of autonomy, and accordingly an obsessive or, better, possessive quality. Emotion, incidentally, is not an activity of the individual but something that happens to him. AION 9

Although, with insight and good will, the shadow can to some extent be assimilated into the conscious personality, experience shows that there are certain features which offer the most obstinate resistance to moral control and prove almost impossible to influence. These resistances are usually bound up with projections, which are not recognized as such, and their recognition is a moral achievement beyond the ordinary. AION 9

 Yet that future personality which we are to be in a year’s time is already here, only it is still in the shadow.

How can we approach the dark sphere of man? As I have told you, this is done by three methods of analysis: the word-association test, dream-analysis, and the method of active imagination. AP 52     (These 3 are covered in detail pages 52-61.)

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.
- Carl Jung

… the inferior function is practically identical with the dark side of the human personality.  The darkness which clings to every personality is the door into the unconscious and the gateway of dreams, from which those two twilight figures, the shadow and the anima, step into our nightly visions or, remaining invisible, take possession of our ego-consciousness.  123

Cont’d …  A man who is possessed by his shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps.  Whenever possible, he prefers to make an unfavourable impression on others.  In the long run luck is always against him, because he is living below his own level and at best only attains what does not suit him.  And if there is no doorstep for him to stumble over, he manufactures one for himself and then fondly believes he has done something useful.  123

(The Shadow), that hidden, repressed for the most part inferior and guilt-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors and so comprise the whole historical aspect of the unconscious. Aion 266

Through analysis of the shadow and of the processes contained in it we uncover the ANIMA/ANIMUS SYZYGY.

Cont’d Looked at superficially, the shadow is cast by the conscious mind and is as much a privation of light as the physical shadow that follows the body. For this superficial view therefore, the psychological shadow with its moral inferiority might also be regarded as a privation of good. On closer inspection, however, it proves to be a darkness that hides influential and autonomous factors which can be distinguished in their own right, namely anima and animus. When we observe them in full operation – as the devastating, blindly obstinate demon of opinonatedness in a woman, and the glamorous, possessive, moody, and sentimental seductress in a man – we begin to doubt whether the unconscious can be merely the insubstantial comet’s tail of consciousness and nothing but a privation of light and good.

[1] “The Shadow,” CW 9ii, par. 14.   (Jung Lexicon page 123)

[2] In any relationship that you are in – there will be a flow of projection and/or introjections depending on the individuals’ character.

[3] The Discourse Summaries – S.N. Goenka pg. 19